, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 8 – It is business as usual on the streets of Nairobi, as the \’Ocampo Six\’ face the judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.
The six suspects are being accused of masterminding widespread violence after Kenya\’s presidential elections of 2007 leading to the deaths of some 1500 people and displacement of half a million others.
Teresia Wanjiru lives in Nairobi’s Kibera slum. She is a victim of the country worst violence since independence.
“I was at home with my family. We heard a bang on the door and people got in and told us that we should move out immediately. They took our valuables and the rest of our possessions were burnt. We were left outside for a few days before we found somewhere else to go.”
Teresia supports the ICC process. “They are doing a great thing,” she says. She feels that the Kenyan government has ignored the situation of those who were affected by the violence. “The government is not doing anything to help the internally displaced people. It has been four years now and they still live in tents.”
On Thursday three of the Ocampo Six suspects suspended Higher Education Minister William Ruto, former Industrialization Minister Henry Kosgey and Radio Presenter Joshua arap Sang made an initial appearance in court where they were formally introduced themselves before war crime charges were read to them.
Three other suspects holding influential positions in the government Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, Head of the Civil Service Ambassador Francis Muthaura and former police commissioner Mohammed Hussein ALI were expected to appear in court on Friday afternoon.
In the past, the government had promised to commit to the resettling those who had been displaced by the post-election violence. However, there are still several families awaiting resettlement.
After being publicly named suspects by ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo, all the suspects quickly declared their innocence. Before departing for The Hague, former minister and one of the suspects William Ruto, had a few parting words: “For those of us who didn’t have the strength of character and succumbed to be used to peddle falsehood against us, I forgive them,” he said.
While Mr Ruto and some of the other suspects prepared to board the flight to the Netherlands, there were mixed reactions from a small crowd that had gathered at the airport “Ocampo should carry out another investigation,” shouted a man, angry about the suspects being called to The Hague.
Kenyans supporting the ICC
In The Hague, there was another group of Kenyans who waited for the ‘Ocampo six’ to arrive.
Although the protestors have different opinions about how justice can be served, they all plead for a fair trail and support the ICC investigation. During the first hearing they stood in front of the ICC-building with signs like ‘Justice – Ni Haki’ and ‘End to tribal politics’. They demand justice and compensation for the victims.
“Some of the Kenyan MP\’s who support the suspects must think we are crazy that we are standing here today. That we are servants from the colonial masters. But that is just propaganda, they don\’t want to face the truth”, says Josh Maiyo, chairman of the Uhollanzi Kenya Association in the Netherlands that has a few hundred members.
However, most of the protestors wouldn\’t have minded if the trial would have taken place in their home country.
Some of them think the ICC is a ‘neo-colonial court’. Others believe strongly that Kenya is very well capable of putting the perpetrators of the post-election violence behind bars. But not all the protestors agree on that.
Kenyans all over the world
“The Kenyan government Kenya doesn\’t have the political will to put these suspects on trial in their own courts. There is no infrastructure for a trial like this and there would be political interference. The ICC is our only option for a fair trial”, says Maiyo on his own behalf.